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England's novices bow to Malinga; MALINGA THE MERCILESS!

Byline: David Croft IN PALLEKELE

INEXPERIENCED England failed to measure up in defence of their ICC World Twenty20 title - and, in the words of their captain Stuart Broad, were "not quite good enough" throughout.

England's exit was confirmed last night when, despite a maiden Twenty20 international half-century from Samit Patel, they lost by 19 runs to Sri Lanka.

Two years after Paul Collingwood led his country to their first, and still only, International Cricket Council trophy - in this sprint format - Broad's callow team must head home before the semi-final stage.

Sri Lanka fast bowler Lasith Malinga undermined England's chase of 169-6 almost from the outset, with three wickets in his first over on the way to career-best figures of 5-31 in the final Super Eight match at Pallekele.

Only victory would have taken England through to the knockout stages and although Patel (67) and even Graeme Swann, with some late hitting, got them closer than had seemed likely, they never looked likely to prevail.

The relatively near miss was an appropriate, if frustrating, way for an unconvincing campaign to end.

"Ten minutes after the game, you're obviously really disappointed," said Broad.

"You can look at the missed opportunities. But I think throughout the whole tournament, we've not quite been good enough." England had to get by, of course, without the controversially absent Kevin Pietersen - and although others hinted at potential, several appeared willing and able maybe but not yet ready to take on and beat the world. "It's very disappointing to have gone out, because I believe we do have the firepower in that changing room to go far," added the captain. "Coming to the ground today, knowing you win three games and you win a World Cup, you're not that far away. It's frustratingly close." Broad did not exactly heap accolades on Malinga, reasoning his early wickets were not the hardest-earned. "It's Twenty20 cricket - he got a short and wide one caught at point, one caught at mid-off and a leg-side lbw that was missing six stumps. But he bowled really well, full and straight and showed the class that the IPL pay millions for. "He obviously hurt us with those three wickets. But they weren't jaffas, were they - we just managed to get out to them." So it was for much of the past two weeks that England have occasionally been the cause of their own downfall. "What you get with young guys is some days absolute brilliance, and other days a bit of averageness," added Broad. "I think, as a team, we've probably shown that. "Obviously, we didn't have enough players firing at the same time. The talent is certainly there. You see on the domestic scene these are the guys who are performing week in week out. "It's a learning experience when you come into the international scene. We've got guys here who haven't played a lot of international cricket. But as long as we learn from it, we will develop." While England pack bags and check early flight details, Sri Lanka can hope for two more home wins for glory. They will be able to do so too with Mahela Jayawardene's continued availability assured, after some quick thinking on their part to make sure he does not fall foul of an ICC over-rate suspension.

That might have been his fate, had Jayawardene led his team again as scheduled and failed to race them through their 20 overs in the allotted time as against West Indies three days ago. He, like Broad against New Zealand, was fined for that transgression but would have been facing a semi-final ban for a repeat. Sri Lanka were therefore led against England by Kumar Sangakkara, to make sure they did not lose such an important player during the latter stages of the tournament. Broad said: "It's quite a clever use of the system. They can't afford to lose someone like Jayawardene for a 'World Cup' semi-final. "It's just a sneaky way to get past the ICC." Jayawardene admitted the ploy, but in more delicate terms. "The intentions were not bad. But obviously I had a warning for the over rate in the last match," he said. "If I get penalised again, I miss the match. It's a tough system, and the penalties are really harsh. We don't want to miss out on a big game - so that's what we did. "I'm sure they might change it - not in this tournament, I hope - but that's what happens. "But we're not trying to be funny, just find a way out of the situation."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:9SRIL
Date:Oct 2, 2012
Words:761
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